Before becoming an NBA legend, Michael Jordan was a star at UNC for the North Carolina Tar Heels. He ultimately won a national championship with the program. However, before even playing one second of college basketball at UNC, Michael Jordan was a confident guy. In fact, his star college teammate even went as far as to say that he had a “big mouth.” That teammate was Hall of Famer James Worthy.
Michael Jordan had a ton of success at UNC
Michael Jordan had an incredible career at UNC for the North Carolina Tar Heels.
In his first season, while he may not have been the top player on the team in terms of scoring, Jordan played a significant role in helping the Tar Heels win the national championship. The future Chicago Bulls legend scored 13.5 points per game to go with 4.4 rebounds that year. Jordan also made the game-winning shot in the national championship game with about 15 seconds left, immediately putting himself in college basketball lore.
However, after that season, he quickly became one of the best players in college basketball. Jordan averaged 20 points per game and 5.5 rebounds in 1982-83, which helped him become a first-team Consensus All-American. He then followed that up with 19.6 points and 5.3 rebounds on 55.1% shooting the following year, which helped him win the AP Player of the Year award.
When people think of the North Carolina Tar Heels, they often think of Jordan. His play in Chapel Hill ultimately helped him become the No. 3 overall pick in the 1984 NBA draft, too.
James Worthy said that MJ had a ‘big mouth’
James Worthy played with Michael Jordan at UNC for one season, and it was the year they won the national championship. Worthy was arguably the team’s best player, too, as he averaged a team-lead 15.6 points to go with 6.3 rebounds that season. That also helped him become a first-team Consensus All-American.
However, Jordan made a strong impression on Worthy before even playing one second at North Carolina.
“I remember recruiting Michael Jordan,” Worthy said on the ACC Digital Network in 2017. “I remember him coming in on a weekend, a football weekend, and I was down in my room at the end of the hall, and the elevator doors open up. All I could hear was this big mouth — and it was Michael Jordan.”
Worthy continued: “He was like, ‘Yeah, yeah. This going to be my hall. I’m taking over this dorm.’ And I was like, ‘He’s still in high school? He’s still in high school?’ I’m like, ‘Who is this guy?’ I never thought he was arrogant, but he was full of confidence.”
Worthy then said that once Michael Jordan got to UNC, he proved his potential pretty quickly.
“I was better than Michael Jordan — for about three weeks; first three weeks of practice,” Worthy said. “… He dunked on Sam Perkins and I one time, and I still don’t know how he did it. But I saw him in the raw. And most of us were kind of in the raw when we came to coach [Dean] Smith … but Michael was an incredible freshman.”
It’s certainly interesting to know how confident Jordan was, even before becoming the star he became.
After their years at UNC, though, Michael Jordan and James Worthy both became NBA legends.
Michael Jordan and James Worthy became NBA legends after UNC
Most of you can probably remember many of Jordan’s NBA accolades off the top of your head.
After leaving UNC, Michael Jordan became a 14-time NBA All-Star, five-time NBA MVP, six-time NBA champion, six-time NBA Finals MVP, and won the Defensive Player of the Year award in 1987-88. Jordan also led the NBA in scoring in 10 different seasons, as his 30.1 career points-per-game average is No. 1 all-time. He is also fifth in NBA history in total points with 32,292.
James Worthy, on the other hand, also had a legendary NBA career. After going to the LA Lakers with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1982 NBA draft, Worthy became a seven-time NBA All-Star, a three-time NBA champion, and he won the NBA Finals MVP in 1987-88. Worthy also averaged 17.6 points and 5.1 rebounds for his career, but his best season probably came in 1989-90 when he averaged 21.1 points and six rebounds.
Michael Jordan and James Worthy may not have played together for very long at UNC, but they are both Tar Heel and NBA legends.